Help: Report Observations of Color-banded Tricolors

Merced Banded female

Tricolored blackbirds have been banded each year since 2007. As of the beginning of 2014, a total of just under 53,000 tricolors has been banded. From 2007-2009, most of the banded birds (nearly all adults) received both USGS aluminum bands as well as two color bands, one color indicating year, and the other indicating site of banding. Sightings of these color-banded birds are especially important, and the Tricolored Blackbird Portal enables you to enter records of observations ("resightings") of color-banded birds.

Resightings of color-banded tricolored blackbirds enable investigators to document spatial and temporal patterns of tricolor movements and have been extremely helpful in identifying new colonies from previously unknown locations. We urge you to record your observations of color-banded tricolors here:

Interpreting Band Colors

Band colors were chosen on the basis of ease of observation in the field. White and yellow bands indicate the year of banding, while red, blue, orange, and green indicate the county in which birds were banded. If you see a color-banded tricolor, you can refer to the table, below, to determine when and where the bird was banded. If both color bands occur on the right tarsus, this indicates that the bird was banded as a fledgling, but fewer than 1% of birds banded to date have been fledglings. Thus, in almost all cases, the left tarsus bears the USGS aluminum band with the "year" color above it, while right tarsus bears the "site" color band (the female illustrated was banded as an adult in Merced county in May, 2008). If only one color band is present, this indicates either that one color band was removed by the bird, or the bird originally received only one color band (the supplier of the yellow color bands used in 2008 ran out of this color mid-way through the field season, and over 2,000 birds received only the "site" color band on the right tarsus and the USGS aluminum band on the left tarsus).

Left Tarsus (year) Right Tarsus (banding location)
white = 2007
yellow = 2008
red = Merced county
blue = Yuba county
orange = Colusa county
green = Yolo county